Romanesque architecture

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St-Sernin basilica, Toulouse, 1080 – 1120: elevation of the east end
Romanesque sculpture, cloister of St. Trophime, Arles

The term Romanesque, like many other stylistic designations of periods in architecture, was not a term contemporary with the art it describes, but an invention of modern scholarship to categorize a period. The term "Romanesque" attempts to link the architecture of the 11th and 12th centuries in medieval Europe to Roman Architecture, based on similarities of forms and materials. Romanesque is characterized by a use of round or slightly pointed arches, barrel vaults, cruciform piers supporting vaults, and groin vaults.

The great carved portals of 12th century church facades (see Church of St. Trophime) parallel the architectural novelty of the period—monumental stone sculpture seems to have been reborn in the Romanesque.

Romanesque appears to have been the first pan-European style since Roman imperial architecture; examples are found in every part of the continent. One important fact pointed out by the stylistic similarity of buildings across Europe is the relative mobility of medieval people. Contrary to many modern ideas of life before the Industrial Revolution, merchants, nobles, knights, artisans, and peasants crossed Europe and the Mediterranean world for business, war, and religious pilgrimages, carrying their knowledge of what buildings in different places looked like. The important pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela (Way of Saint James), in Galicia (present-day northwestern Spain) also generated and spread some aspects of the Romanesque style. A particular scheme of pilgrimage church appeared and developed throughout the main routes in Tours, Limoges, Conques, Toulouse and Santiago de Compostela.

The Romanesque was not confined only to architecture; it was accompanied by changes in design for woodworking seen, for example, in chests and cupboards. The exterior of books and manuscript design changes during this period, as scribes begin to use a new clear style of writing (Caroline minuscule). Texts are set among intricate spirals and elaborate and finely-drawn nature motifs, becoming an international graphic style. The Romanesque style attempted to revive the styles of the art of classical antiquity, but it also drew heavily on ancient Christian Celtic and Byzantine arts.


[edit] Style characteristics

A combination of masonry, arch and piers are the basis of the Romanesque style. The main concept for buildings was the addition of pure geometrical forms. The new concept of stone vaulting required stronger walls for support. Because of the lack of knowledge of the building statics, it was necessary to build strong, thick walls with narrow openings.

The Pier (an upright support generally square or rectangular in plan) is a better solution for masonry walls than the column. Columns are subsequently replaced by piers, or are transformed to better support the masonry arches. Geometrisation and rigidity in Romanesque architecture is evident in the transformation of column capitals from Corinthian to cubic capitals, as found in the church of St. Michael, Hildesheim. There is also one new element in the capitals developed during the Romanesque period—the impost, a trapezoid form which stands between capital and arch.

Two types of alternation of supporting elements appeared during the Romanesque:

  1. Simple alternation - 1 column (circular) is followed by 1 pier (rectangular)
  2. Double alternation - 2 piers stand between every column

[edit] Regional varieties

Further information: List of Romanesque architecture

[edit] Great Britain

Main article: Norman architecture

[edit] France

Romanesque architecture expanded in France through monasteries. Burgundy was the center of monastic life in France; one of the most important Benedictine monastery of medieval Europe was the one in Cluny. The pilgrimage also contributed to the expansion of the Romanesque style. Many pilgrims passed through France on their way to Santiago de Compostela.

French Romanesque schools of architecture, which are specific for every region, are characterized by the variety of stone vaulting.

[edit] Spain

The romanesque look first developed in Spain in the 10th and 11th centuries and before Cluny`s influence, in Lérida, Barcelona, Tarragona and Huesca and in the Pyrenees, simultaneously with the north of Italy, into what is been called "First Romanesque" or "Lombard Romanesque". It is a very primitive style, whose characteristics are thick walls, lack of sculpture and the presence of rhythmic ornamental arches.

The plain Romanesque Architecture arrived with the influence of Cluny through the Way of Saint James, that ends in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. The model of the Spanish Romanesque in the 12th century was the Cathedral of Jaca, with its characteristic apse structure and plan, and its "chess" decoration in stripes, called taqueado jaqués. As the Christian kingdoms of Spain advanced to the south, that model spread throughout the reconquered areas with some variations. Spanish Romanesque also shows the influence of Spanish pre-Romanesque styles, mainly Asturian and Mozarabic. But there is also a strong influence of Moorish architecture in Spain at this time, as can be seen in the vaults of Córdoba's Mosque, and the polylobulated arches. In the [3th century, some Romanesque churches alternated with the Gothic. Aragón, Castile and Navarre are areas with many examples of Spanish Romanesque architecture.

[edit] See also

Look up Romanesque in
Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

[edit] External links

da:Romansk stil de:Romanik es:Arte románico eo:Romaniko fr:Architecture romane it:Romanico he:רומנסק lt:Romaninė architektūra nl:Romaanse stijl ja:ロマネスク建築 pl:Architektura romańska pt:Arquitectura do românico ro:Romanic ru:Романский стиль fi:Romaaninen arkkitehtuuri sv:Romansk arkitektur th:ศิลปะยุคโรมัน

Romanesque architecture

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